World Cup qualification: will Flick succeed in reversing the trend?

Status: 04.09.2021 11:13 a.m.

Improve sustainably through play and score three points in every game: Hansi Flick’s job as national coach is a balancing act between future prospects and current successes. That makes personnel changes risky.

It was clear to Hansi Flick that the task of getting the German national soccer team back on track on both sides after several years of playful anemia and moderate sporting success would not work. It should have been clear to everyone around the DFB team.

No “miracle cure” overnight

But people also know that they almost certainly cannot win the lottery – and yet over seven million Germans regularly make their seven crosses. And in the run-up to the first international match under Hans-Dieter Flick, she swung a little with the irrational hope that everything would be back in splendor and glamor immediately – both with those involved and with the media and throughout “Football Germany” would transform if the “sextuple winner” Flick took the reins in hand.

That – and the hoped-for liberating victory against Liechtenstein – came to nothing. And after just a few minutes, even the most optimistic viewers could see that Flick would need a lot of time and hard work to achieve the turnaround. Despite the many undoubtedly talented players – with the exception of Bernd Leno, all of the starting XI play in Champions League clubs – often saw what was happening on the lawn just as static and uninspired from like most recently under Joachim Löw. “After three training sessions,” said Flick, “he couldn’t blame the team” for not working yet. That’s true – nevertheless it should have been more against number 189 in the world rankings. Must be more.

Actually only “mandatory victories”

Because the next opponent is Armenia (Sunday, 05.09.2021, 8.45 p.m.) with three wins and one draw so far in what on paper is actually an easy World Cup qualification group J, it can be assumed that the task against the team around Henrich Mchitarjan will be more difficult than against Liechtenstein, who defended bravely, but hardly even those Center line crossed. On paper, however, this is also a task that would have to fall into the “must win” category for the highly talented DFB staff.

The new national coach knows that too – Flick will therefore probably offer his “A-Elf”. So play with Manuel Neuer, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry, probably also with Antonio Rüdiger. What is often forgotten in the perception: These are the same players who last played key roles in the less glamorous appearances under Löw.

When do the youngsters move in?

Even if Flick called three newcomers to the squad with David Raum, Nico Schlotterbeck and Karim Adeyemi, the criticism would be great if he completely turned his starting eleven upside down and banished various tried and tested Champions League players to the bench for youngsters and the performance would fail . It would be dismissed as actionism – and rightly so.

Nevertheless, those tried and tested Champions League players did not exactly advertise a starting line-up guarantee. Rather, they offered arguments that Flick should prefer young talents to them faster than expected, such as Jamal Musiala, who at least occasionally sprayed esprit against Liechtenstein, or the lightning-fast Adeyemi for the offensive.

Same players – same performance

Florian Wirtz


That won’t happen against Armenia from the start, the game is too important for that. A defeat would mean that first place in the group – and only that brings the direct qualification – would no longer be achievable on one’s own. A win, on the other hand, would lift the DFB-Elf to first place. But it is still likely that the national coach already has concrete ideas for the next generation in mind, including Florian Wirtz.

It is not known whether Flick is familiar with the “definition of insanity” attributed to Albert Einstein. But regardless of whether it was the famous physicist who formulated it or not – it fits here quite well. It reads: “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.” Anyone who seriously thought that almost exactly the same players a few weeks and three training units later would suddenly play a completely different, nicer and more successful football with the former assistant coach of their old trainer, has also firmly anchored winning the lottery in their financial plan.

Flick needs a bit of time for a fair assessment of his performance as national coach – even if the team is of course doomed to win because of the defeat against North Macedonia on the way to new strength. But if the DFB team does not show a playful development soon, there must also be personnel changes in the player staff, even if that should consistently produce narrow victories. Flick, who emphasized when he took office that nominations are only based on performance, will also know that.


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